Why Acceleron Pharma Inc. Is Tumbling Today

By Brian Feroldi Markets Fool.com

What happened

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In response to reporting disappointing first-quarter results, shares of Acceleron Pharma (NASDAQ: XLRN), a clinical-stage biotech focused on rare diseases, were down 12% as of 3:45 p.m. EDT.

So what

Here's a look at the headline numbers from the quarter that are impacting the share price today:

  • Revenue dropped 80% to $3.7 million. That sounds bad, but since Acceleron is still in the clinical stage, its sole source of revenue is collaboration payments from its partner Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG). These payments are lumpy in nature, hence the big year-over-year drop. However, this figure was still a hair shy of the $3.9 million that Wall Street had expected.
  • Net loss was $25.4 million, or $0.66. This figure was also worse than the $0.58 loss that analysts had predicted.
  • Acceleron ended the quarter with $213 million in cash. Management stated that that should be enough capital to fund operations into the second half of 2019.

Traders appear to be reacting harshly to the quarterly misses, which is why shares are dropping today.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Headline numbers aside, Acceleron had a number of clinical updates to share. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The company's phase 3 MEDALIST and BELIEVE trials are expected to complete enrollment later this quarter. The MEDALIST trial (with Celgene) is studying Acceleron's lead compound luspatercept as a treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). The BELIEVE trial is studying luspatercept as a treatment of beta thalassemia. Top-line data is expected by mid-2018.
  • Acceleron and Celgene stated that they plan to initiate a third phase 3 trial studying luspatercept in an MDS in early 2018.
  • Acceleron also announced its intentions to kick off a phase 2 study of another compound called ACE-083 as a treatment for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Now what

Acceleron's long-term potential is tied to the success or failure of its pipeline drugs such as luspatercept. For that reason, shareholders shouldn't sweat minor details such as revenue and net losses that may occur in any 90-day period. Hence, if you were bullish on Acceleron stock prior to today's earnings release, I see no reason to change your stance today.

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Brian Feroldi owns shares of Celgene. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Celgene. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.